View Full Version : What exactly is the difference between an arcade board and a consumer PC?

10-27-11, 05:07 PM
Like, what is the difference between this:


And this:


What can one do that the other can't, etc.? I have been trying to analyze the differences between an off-the-shelf computer, like a Mac Mini or Mac Pro, and an arcade board like Sega's Lindbergh system. For example, if an arcade machine uses LED lights that act in unison with the game, how would this be connected via Lindbergh or Ringwide? Through serial connection? Can this be done through Mac Mini, etc.?

10-28-11, 05:19 PM
My understanding of this is that once an arcade module such as that has been standardized, much like the XBox, code can then be written direct-to-metal. That one actually has an integrated graphics chip, which should make it easier to design for, should Sega or whomever decide they want to do that. Others I've seen, like some of the later ones by Taito, use interchangeable parts. They are essentially just PCs that can be modified for each game. I'm not sure of those can have direct-to-metal coding or not, but I would say it's still very possible.

Macs don't have that luxury. Certain models are similar for a time, then the hardware gets updated, and that happens over and over. Even though we often think they are really similar, the different north & south bridge configurations, audio & lan chipsets, etc, make them technically incompatible with one another (our drivers hide that from us).

As far as the arcade cabinet bells and whistles, I'm sure there's something there to handle that, at least, if the game calls for it. It could no doubt be mimicked by a PC (think MAME cabinets), but since these things are made for the arcade to begin with, that would make sense. But that's not what really separates the two.

Again, this is my understanding of the situation. There could easily be other things I missed... Hope that helps a little.

10-29-11, 09:31 AM
Thanks for the reply! After doing a little research as to what arcade boards different games use, I found one in particular that uses an off-the-shelf Dell PC. Very interesting - I would love to see the connections on the inside if I could...